House debates

Wednesday, 23 October 2019


Farm Household Support Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill (No. 1) 2019; Second Reading

11:33 am

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources) Share this | Hansard source

I'll take that interjection. They improve it, and that's why we're supporting it. But don't interject to suggest that this is sufficient to cover off on what our farming families need. Let's keep it in perspective, too. The government says, 'Well, this is the first provision. Instead of being able to secure farm household allowance for only four years, you can get it for four in every 10.' Let me share with the Australian community what that means. It means that if I went on the payment in 2014 and I'm coming off it now—the government's cutting me off it now—I would be able to reapply in 2024.

Mr Littleproud interjecting

And if I were the minister, I would not provoke me! The second thing it does is to further relax the income test. That's a good thing. We support that. But those worried about not being captured by $100,000 rather than $80,000 aren't the people, necessarily, who are destitute, Minister, so let's please keep this in perspective.

The other thing it does is to introduce these lump sum payments. So what the government is saying here is: 'We're not going to cut you off after four years, now; we're going to cut you off after four and a half years.' I'm impressed with their optimism. Maybe what they're saying is that they expect these farmers not to be in need of any allowance in six months time. I doubt it, sadly. I wish that were true. But I sadly doubt it.

We are now dealing with lateness again. This bill has to be passed before this lump sum payment can be secured. I've had a look at the parliamentary calendar, and, at best, this bill will pass through the parliament and go to royal assent in mid-November. It'll probably pass the Senate on Remembrance Day, if we get on with it. And we're here to facilitate it. But what happens to those who've already been cut off, until then? Of course, those who have been cut off before then will have to reapply for this payment, for this lump sum, and, gee, I pray that the process is nowhere near as horrific for farmers as was the original application to secure farm household allowance.

I just want to say something quickly about the dairy sector. The dairy sector was doing it tough, caught in a price-cost squeeze, even before the drought began.

Mr Littleproud interjecting

The minister says he fixed it because he bashed up on the supermarkets. Go out to any dairy farmer in the country now and ask them whether anything has improved for them since the minister claimed to have fixed it. He claimed to be the new fixer!

Mr Littleproud interjecting

Well, that's not what the dairy farmers are telling me, Minister. They had an 18-month ACCC inquiry into the dairy industry. Its main recommendation was a dairy code of conduct. Do we have a dairy code of conduct? No. Senator Hanson might give us one earlier than we can expect under those sitting opposite. But this is a government which has not lifted one finger—


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